Austintown will continue open enrollment in spite of parent concerns

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Austintown School Board voted Wednesday to continue allowing open enrollment in the district, welcoming students living outside of the township.

In a 4 to 1 vote, the board chose to continue having open enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year.

It’s been a hot topic in the district for a while now, with some parents even starting a petition to vote out Superintendent Vince Colaluca over the issue.

Parents argue there needs to be a limit on the number of open enrollment students. Currently, 13 percent of the schools’ students do not live in Austintown.

Newly-elected School Board President Alex Benyo voted to keep open enrollment. He said they’ve been working with a 25-member committee to make the proper adjustments to the policy.

“Some of them are people from the community, some are from the school system. It really brought a lot of information out to them so they could really firm up their opinions on it, and it’s really positive.”

Colaluca has been under fire in the past about the open enrollment issue. He said the board continues to make adjustments to the policy.

“We’re working with that committee. We continue to work with the board, with capacity of open enrollment.”

A state audit found the Austintown School District was losing money with its current open enrollment policy. Colaluca said open enrollment keeps them out of the red.

“We disagree with some of the things the state auditor is saying on the financial piece. Components of the financial piece and the state audit is closing down buildings. We decided as an entity we don’t want to close down buildings.”

The district stopped accepting new open enrollment students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades.

On January 25, the school board will have a meeting open to the public to announce its changes to the open enrollment policy.